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Green Party Finance spokesperson Neasa Hourigan and leader Eamon Ryan
Green Party Finance spokesperson Neasa Hourigan and leader Eamon Ryan
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

The Green Party promises free student travel, public housing and a Universal Basic Income

Party leader Eamon Ryan criticised other parties for their lack of ambition when it comes to climate action.
Jan 25th 2020, 2:54 PM 23,054 129

THE GREEN PARTY has promised to introduce a Universal Basic Income, free travel for students and an overhaul of public transport systems if elected. 

The party’s finance spokesperson Neasa Hourigan said the Greens’ manifesto is a call for action and lays out plans for a “decade of change”. 

Over the next 20 years, the party said it will spend €50 billion on retrofitting homes around the country. It has pledged to retrofit about 75,000 homes per year. 

To train the estimated 20,000 workers that are required to adequately retrofit the country’s housing stock, the party has proposed a fast-track apprenticeship programme. This full be funded with European Investment Bank finance, according to the manifesto. 

The party blames the country’s poor infrastructure and urban sprawl on a long history of bad public planning. It wants to tackle this by overhauling in the country’s transport system. 

The party has pledged to double investment in public transport, committing 10% of transport funds to cycling and 10% to walking.

It also wants to make public transport free for all students and introduce a €365 public transport annual pass modelled on the fare structure first introduced in Vienna in 2013.

The Greens say they want to reform the current system of social welfare payments by introducing a Universal Basic Income, which will be done through gradual reform of the tax and welfare system. 

The party has also committed to future-proofing Ireland’s energy system with a “massive”  investment in offshore wind and solar power. 

If elected, it has also promised an immediate nationwide ban on smoky coal, stopping the burning peat for electricity and preventing the resumption of industrial peat extraction.

Some of the other plans include: 

  • Replacing Rebuilding Ireland with a National Housing Plan to build public housing on public land, directly procured by local authorities. 
  • Reducing pupil-teacher ratios, invest in third-level institutions, and end pay inequality in education.
  • Ending the issuing of oil and gas exploration and extraction licences and
    stand firmly against the importation of fracked gas from other territories.
  • Banning single-use plastic and set up a bottle deposit and return scheme, to
    dramatically reduce plastic waste.
  • Holding a referendum to insert a clause on environmental protection in the
    Constitution.
  • Supporting the development of a light rail system for Cork and Galway cities and devise new urban rail plans for Limerick and Waterford cities.

The party has also committed to rewarding farmers for “sequestering carbon, restoring nature, and producing clean energy,” through a reformed Common Agricultural Policy. 

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said there is a huge gap between parties when it comes to the issue of tackling climate change and the biodiversity crisis, criticising the manifestos launched by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil yesterday for their lack of ambition when it comes to climate action policies. 

“I see lip service. I see just playing a defensive game, that won’t work. We need to start scoring goals, we need to start showing leadership not being laggard and start having ambition,” something Ryan said the Irish people are ready for. 

The party has enjoyed election successes over the last year and is tipped by pollsters to continue the trend of the Green wave currently sweeping across Europe.

The party has recently worked hard to counter the idea that its policies will be harmful to rural Ireland and farmers, and the issue was highlighted by leader Eamon Ryan again on today. 

The fallacy that this is not going to be good for rural Ireland has to stop because I think people in rural Ireland want to be part of this, and have as much sense as anyone else that they have a role to play, and we have a role to play by listening and realising it has to come from the bottom up.

He also criticised rival parties who were promising “handouts” in their manifestos, adding the Greens cannot guarantee tax cuts, and he said forming the next government is likely to be a long and complicated process.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have both signalled they would look to the Green Party in the likely event that they do not win a majority.

Ryan said: “I think the bigger picture is what is the strategic direction we want to take the country.

“It’s not the exact figures, it’s the policy.

“The disagreements with other parties on climate and domestic issues isn’t just on the figure but it’s the big policy issues that need to be addressed.”

The full manifesto can be read here

- Additional reporting from PA

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